A new brief from the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University shows statewide school voucher programs are growing, but the authors believe enrollment will begin to level off.

School voucher programs typically refer to government-provided funds that assist parents or guardians in sending their children to private, rather than public, schools. The programs are controversial because opponents argue they funnel public money into private, often religious, institutions. Supporters argue that voucher programs give families more choice in their children’s education and improve schools by promoting competition.

The brief, “Mapping the Growth of Statewide Voucher Programs in the United States,” compared the statewide programs in Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and Louisiana, because they have the only programs that are open to all students.

According to the brief, all the states have increased the number of vouchers available by either increasing or eliminating enrollment caps. State funding and enrollment has increased as well. But enrollment has started to level off, said Molly Stewart, research associate at the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy. In addition, there are more scholarships available than students seeking them.

“They’re not all being used,” she said, referring to the number of available vouchers.

In Ohio, for example, there are 60,000 EdChoice scholarships available, but only half of those are being used, she said. Stewart speculated that, in the market for vouchers, demand has been met.

“Only a certain percentage of families have interest,” she said.

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